I was elected to my first public office this year, and was the top vote-getter in a race against three well-known opponents in Amherst, Ohio. Believe it or not, the lessons I’ve learned in becoming a successful blogger helped me run an effective City Council campaign.
Many of the qualities that make a great blog can also make for great political campaigning. Hard work, smart planning and effective networking are just a few of the strategies that both bloggers and politicians use to blaze a trail to success.
Here are five rules I’ve followed in launching a successful blog that also translated into winning votes on the campaign trail. Whether you’re a blogger or a political candidate, you can use these same tactics to help guarantee your own victory.
1. Generate Credibility
As a blogger, you want your visitors to see you as a credible and experienced authority on the subject you specialize in. Without an air of credibility, it’s much more difficult to build a wide-reaching subscriber base and repeat traffic. By blogging about things you’re personal familiar with, you’ll quickly amass a large audience of readers who are eager to learn.
Credibility is perhaps even more important in political campaigns. If voters don’t see you as a qualified and credible candidate for the office you’re seeking, you aren’t likely to get much support. When broadcasting your message to voters, it’s important to focus on the reasons why you’re suited for the job.
2. Practice Sincerity
There aren’t many more durable cliches than that of the insincere politician. By only focusing on issues that you’re passionate and sincere about, you’ll both surprise voters and garner a lot of support.
The same goes for blogging. If you aren’t providing your readers with sincere and genuine content, they probably won’t come back for more. Although you can find short-term success by focusing on subjects that you aren’t acquainted with or enthusiastic about, the ruse isn’t likely to last long.
3. Make Your Content Relevant
If your blog centers on the subject of affiliate marketing, you probably won’t maintain a very large audience if every other post is about gardening. While occasional diversions are sometimes fun for your readers, they won’t stick around unless you consistently provide them with content they’re interested in.
In politics, a the same applies to campaign literature and advertising. If you’re running for city council, the voters don’t want to hear about your opinions on nuclear proliferation or immigration. They want to know your views on topics that are relevant to them: street repair, tax rates, business retention and other local issues.
4. Personalize Your Efforts
Blogs are inevitably more successful if individual readers feel that you are personally talking to them in every post. Responding to every email, interacting with readers who leave comments, and thanking other bloggers when they link back to you are all time-consuming practices that pay back large dividends.
Personalization is also remarkably effective in political campaigning. For my city council race, I filled out hand-written postcards to 3,000 residents reminding them to vote and thanking them for their support. It took nearly half a year to complete, but many voters appreciated getting a hand-written note from a candidate.
5. Implement Web Technology and Social Media
This is common-sense for bloggers, but some of us could stand to explore more options for promoting content through social media and emerging web technology.
Becoming comfortable with a static blog layout and only a few social media resources is dangerous for a blogger. Instead, keep updated on new methods that other bloggers are using to promote their sites, and don’t be afraid to change.
In politics, effectively integrating web technology and social media into your campaign can be a game-changer. While not the only factor in my campaign’s success, a good website and social media promotion helped me raise more money and generate more local interest than I would have otherwise.